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Homecoming fireworks at Hernando County's Springstead High came close to fizzling out

BROOKSVILLE — A bureaucratic oversight blew up in the face of the School Board on Tuesday and threatened to ground Springstead High School's homecoming fireworks display slated for tonight.

By Tuesday evening, an agreement with the county attorney's office and the Spring Hill Fire Rescue office had been reached to allow the display after all.

"Let the show go on," said board member Dianne Bonfield.

The board learned during a workshop Tuesday afternoon that the district never got a permit from the county for the display already bought and paid for by the school.

In fact, the district hasn't secured the permit for Springstead's display for the better part of the past decade, even though the county attorney's office noted in 2002 that the permit is necessary, School Board attorney Paul Carland told the board Tuesday.

Carland said it's unclear why the district didn't start securing permits that year.

Someone with the Spring Hill Fire Rescue district raised the issue about two weeks ago and it eventually came to Carland's attention, he said.

Springstead's student government association paid $3,870 for the display, set to cap off an evening of festivities at the school on Mariner Boulevard.

The board was set to tell the school tough luck after Carland advised that the county ordinance is backed up by the state's penal code and there was no time to ask the County Commission to approve a permit.

County Commissioner Jeff Stabins showed up at the workshop a few minutes later to plead with the board to let the school go through with the fireworks display.

Because Spring Hill Fire Rescue is now an independent district, the permitting authority now falls to that organization, Stabins told the board.

The fire district hasn't set up the permitting process, but Spring Hill Chief Mike Rampino gave his word that the fireworks show is fine by his agency, Stabins said.

"The bottom line is the children of Springstead, the students and parents, have paid for fireworks, and the Spring Hill Fire District will be there," Stabins said.

Stabins told the board he raised those issues with Carland in recent days, but Carland urged caution.

"I'm not going to give the advice to just ignore the criminal code just because someone says its okay," Carland said.

The School Board gave its tentative approval for the show pending written confirmation from the fire district and the county attorney's office.

The district had those letters by Tuesday evening. Still, board members were clearly steamed by the close call.

Board member Pat Fagan said he recalls raising the issue of fireworks permits in 2004 and was told by staff that the School Board had authority to approve the displays.

"I want it checked why it hasn't been done correctly in the past," Fagan said.

Reporter Tony Marrero can be reached at (352) 848-1431 or tmarrero@sptimes.com.

Homecoming fireworks at Hernando County's Springstead High came close to fizzling out 10/06/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 6, 2009 10:19pm]
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